Milwaukee–Dearborn subway

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Milwaukee–Dearborn subway
Clark-Lake subway 1 .jpg
The subway platform at Clark/Lake
TypeRapid transit
SystemChicago "L"
LocaleChicago, Illinois, United States
Services     Blue Line
Daily ridership44,584 (average weekday February 2013)
OpenedFebruary 25, 1951
Operator(s)Chicago Transit Authority
Rolling stock2600-series
Line length3.85 mi (6.20 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
ElectrificationThird rail, 600 V DC
Route map

Chicago River

The Milwaukee–Dearborn subway is an underground section of the Blue Line "L" and is located in the Loop area in Chicago, Illinois. It is 3.85 mi (6.20 km) long and connects the northwest (O'Hare) branch to the southwest (Forest Park) branch of the Blue Line. As of February 2013, the branch serves an average of 44,584 passengers each weekday.[1] Since the subway is operated by the Blue Line it serves passengers 24 hours a day/7 days a week and 365 days a year.


The Milwaukee–Dearborn subway project was funded by New Deal programs established by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. In 1937, the city of Chicago successfully applied for a federal grant and loan from the Works Progress Administration to fund the construction of two subway tunnels, the first of which would be built beneath State Street and the second beneath Milwaukee Avenue and Dearborn Street. In March 1939, construction began on the Milwaukee–Dearborn subway. The tunnel was buried deep to enable the use of a tunnel boring machine throughout the construction of the subway. Only brief sections were built using the "cut-and-cover" method. Rationing imposed by World War II delayed completion of the subway due to a shortage of materials. Construction on the Milwaukee–Dearborn subway, which was 80% completed in 1942, was temporarily halted to allow for the scarce supply of labor and materials to be used to continue construction of the State Street subway, which was considered a priority. In December 1945, the city of Chicago resumed work on the Milwaukee–Dearborn subway.[2]

The Milwaukee–Dearborn subway officially opened for passenger service on February 25, 1951. In 1958, the southern branch of the tunnel was extended under Congress Parkway, past its former terminus at LaSalle, to connect to the Congress Branch in the median of the Eisenhower Expressway. A new station was opened at this time at Clinton Street. On February 9, 1992, the Chicago Transit Authority closed the Grand/Milwaukee station due to budget cuts and low ridership. The station reopened on June 25, 1999 at 6:00 a.m. On April 13, 1992, the Milwaukee–Dearborn subway closed due to the great flood of Chicago.[3]


On July 11, 2006, a train derailment caused a fire in the Milwaukee–Dearborn subway, causing the subway to be closed temporarily. 150 people were injured to varying degrees but there were no fatalities.[4] This incident occurred on the same day as the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.[5]


On February 21, 1993, the CTA color-coded the lines, making the Milwaukee–Dearborn subway part of the present day Blue Line. The Blue Line runs 24 hours a day/7 days a week, providing service between O'Hare and Forest Park.

Station listing[edit]

Milwaukee–Dearborn subway
Station Location Points of interest and notes
Division 1200 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago Goose Island, Polonia Triangle, Wicker Park, Chopin Theatre, Holy Trinity Polish Mission, St. Stanislaus Kostka Noble Square
Chicago 800 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago St. John Cantius
Grand 502 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago Closed February 9, 1992; Reopened June 25, 1999
Clark/Lake Handicapped/disabled access 124 W. Lake Street, Chicago James R. Thompson Center, Richard J. Daley Center, Chicago City Hall

Transfer station for Orange, Green, Purple, Brown, and Pink Lines

Washington 127 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago Richard J. Daley Center, Chicago Picasso, Cook County Administration Building, Goodman Theatre

Transfer station for the Red Line via the Pedway (as of May 19, 2013). Formerly via a lower level transfer tunnel to the indefinitely closed Washington/State station until October 2006.

Monroe 30 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago Inland Steel Building, CIBC Theatre, Chase Tower
Jackson Handicapped/disabled access 312 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago Kluczynski Federal Building, Flamingo, Harold Washington Library Center, Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse

Transfer station for Red Line and Brown, Orange, Pink, and Purple Lines via Harold Washington Library – State/Van Buren

LaSalle Metra or South Shore connection 150 W. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center, LaSalle Street Station, Chicago Stock Exchange
Clinton Metra or South Shore connection 426 S. Clinton Street, Chicago Union Station, Greyhound Terminal, Old Chicago Main Post Office

Image gallery[edit]


  1. ^ "Ridership Report: February 2013" (PDF). Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Graham, Garfield. "Milwaukee–Dearborn Subway". Chicago 'L'. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  3. ^ Reardon, Patrick. "The Loop's Great Chicago Flood". Politics, Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  4. ^ "Chicago subway derailment injures 150 people". Life on NBC News. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  5. ^ Olson, Walter. "Chicago and Mumbai has subway incidents on the same day". Overlawyered. Retrieved April 8, 2013.